While I agree with John Shannon (MW November 2) that consumers will gain more control over the marketing function and will erode national pricing strategies, he does not shed any light on how marketers should respond.
No one would argue with his point that manufacturers and retailers will have to produce outstanding advertising output and have cultures and systems to match. That is obvious. But how do marketers maintain and build brand continuity and sales in an era of disintegrated market places and media?
The answer, I believe, is permission marketing. As Shannon says, consumers are taking control, but the best strategy is to let them take total control by allowing them to opt into the marketing function rather than the more hit-and-miss approach of traditional research and targeting techniques.
Not only does this create deeper loyalty and better communications, it is far more cost effective in terms of sales conversion and marketing spend.
In the US, where e-mail permission marketing (EPM) has been established for more than three years, EPM characteristically achieves responses of more than ten per cent at one-twentieth of the cost of conventional direct marketing. Furthermore, over a third of online consumers have opted in to receiving commercial e-mails related to their interests.
As international borders are broken down by consumers seeking the best deals and most media continues to fragment, EPM is growing at a rate which allows companies and consumers to interact profitably and in harmony. This applies to all brands, nations and cultures.
Although there is plenty of talk about new media, we need leading marketing thinkers to explain how it will provide solutions to present and future challenges. Lecturing about trading conditions does not take us forward. They demand solutions, and at Internet speed.
Chief operations officer